Iraqi leader warns Turkey against sending troops over border

Iraqi leader warns Turkey against sending troops over border
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said Iraqi armed forces would be forced to confront Turkish troops if they enter Iraq.
3 min read
02 November, 2016
Abadi warned Turkey against invading Iraqi territory [AFP]
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has warned Turkish troops massed on the border they will pay a "heavy price" if they cross into Iraq.

Turkish tanks and artillery have built-up on the Iraqi border on Tuesday, as tensions between Baghdad and Ankara simmer.

Ankara has threatened to intervene in the Battle of Mosul if Iraqi armed forces retaliate against civilians, while a war-of-words between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abadi continues.


The Iraqi leader made a public appearance on Tuesday evening to make a statement following reports of a Turkish military build-up on the border.

"We do not want to fight Turkey. We do not want a confrontation with Turkey. God forbid, even if we engage in war with them, the Turks will pay a heavy price. They will be damaged," Abadi said in a televised speech.

"Yes, we too will be damaged, but whenever a country fights a neighbouring country there will be no winner, both will end up losing."

It comes as thousands of Shia militants set up positions west of Mosul, while Iraqi special forces entered the city and pushed deeper into Islamic State group territory.

Turkey has warned Baghdad it will intervene if Sunni civilians - particularly ethnic Turkmen - are targeted by Iraqi security forces or pro-government Shia militias.

There have been concerns about the presence of the Shia militias know as the Hashd al-Shaabi - or Popular Mobilisation Forces - who have reportedly killed and abducted Sunni civilians in other territories taken from IS.

Protecting the brethren

Erdogan has stated he will not tolerate such a situation in Mosul, and said Turkish troops would be ready to intervene to stop massacres, and if Shia fighters hurt residents in the Turkmen town of Tal Afar.

This is something Abadi warned against in his speech and said Iraqi armed forces were ready to halt Turkish military action.

"We warn Turkey if they want to enter Iraq they will end up becoming fragmented," he said.

"[Turkey is] not a country to able to fight outside their borders. Yes it happened 40 to 50 years ago in Cyprus, but Iraq is not Cyprus. Iraq is unified."

But Abadi also offered Turkey an olive branch, saying he did not want to go to war with Turkey and admitted that Ankara is fighting "terror" at home.

He also said that Turkish concerns of possible retaliation against civilians have so far not emerged, and Iraqi security forces were advancing deeper into Mosul.

"The advance of our forces directly into Mosul is ongoing and they have liberated Gogjali and the Mosul TV building," he said.

"Up to now, no human rights violations in war zone areas have been committed by Iraqi forces against civilians."

Turkey is also concerned with the presence of Kurdish militias in northern Iraq and have carried out air strikes on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) positions in the country.